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The mental struggle of trying to keep up with the Joneses article
The mental struggle of trying to keep up with the Joneses article

In today’s age of social media, it can be tempting to compare your financial situation to that of your peers and neighbours and view their spending behaviour and material possessions as a benchmark for success. This is known as ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.

But whilst most of us are guilty of comparing ourselves to others from time to time, making decisions based on the spending habits of other people can lead to disastrous consequences for your mental and financial health.

In this article, we’ll outline the mental struggle of trying to keep up with the Joneses and the importance of staying in your own lane and focusing on your own financial future. 

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It’s rarely as it seems

It can be easy to convince yourself that everyone else is earning more than you are and, as a result, are in a better financial position than you are. But, the truth is, other peoples’ lives are rarely as glamorous as they’re made out to be on the surface. 

The rise of social media, in particular, has created a false perception of reality and can trick people into believing that everyone has unlimited cash to splash when, in reality, some are deep in debt. 

So, as long as you are spending within your means and you have some savings to fall back on, you are exactly where you need to be and your finances might even be in better shape than the people you’ve always thought were more successful than you. 


It’s a losing battle 

Have you ever rushed to purchase a pair of designer shoes you know you can’t afford because your friend keeps raving about them or upgraded your car because your neighbour pulled up in a brand-new set of wheels? 

This might make you feel better in the moment but it won’t be long before this feeling fades and the bar gets set even higher when the latest gizmo or gadget is released.

For example, by the time you’ve saved up to purchase a designer bag or remodel your kitchen, another trend might have taken over and made yours look outdated. 

Instead, only make decisions you are confident you will still be happy with down the line and, more importantly, that fit within your budget. 


It can lead to debt 

In a world where posting photos on social media has become a genuine (and comfortable) way to earn a living, most people have purchased something after seeing it advertised on social media. 

But with our social media feeds full of images of our friends going out for brunch every weekend or going on picture-perfect holidays every month, it can be easy to feel like you should be doing (and spending) the same. 

There is nothing wrong with being influenced to make a purchase but if you know you are no longer spending within your means, it might be time to take a step back and evaluate your finances before they spiral out of control because this can be a slippery slope to debt.


It can take a toll on your health

It might sound obvious but constantly trying to keep up with what your peers and neighbours are doing can take a toll on both your mental and physical health. 

This can lead to chronic stress which can have an impact on other areas of your life, such as your ability to hold down a job or maintain relationships with your friends, family, and colleagues. 

Similarly, trying to keep up with the people around you can also make it difficult to fall asleep (and stay asleep) at a reasonable time and this can lead to serious health problems like insomnia.


It can make you feel worse 

Have you ever compared your financial situation to that of your peers and felt deflated when you realised that yours didn’t even come close? This can lead to impulse spending in an attempt to catch up but this will only make you feel worse when you realise that it’s a losing battle. 

The truth is, it’s impossible to know how other people’s financial situations stack up to yours and, behind closed doors, everyone has their own struggles when it comes to their finances. 

It’s also worth remembering that – as much as it might seem like it – money isn’t everything and chasing it will only make you feel unhappy and unfulfilled in the long run.

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Maxine McCreadie

Maxine is an experienced writer, specialising in personal insolvency. With a wealth of experience in the finance industry, she has written extensively on the subject of Individual Voluntary Arrangements, Protected Trust Deed’s, and various other debt solutions.

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Our debt experts, and insolvency practitioners continually monitor the personal finance and debt industry, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

August 17 2022

Written by
Maxine McCreadie

Edited by
Maxine McCreadie